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The Bonus Army—Genesis of the G.I. Bill

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453.     [PHOTOGRAPHY]. [BONUS ARMY]. Two gelatin silver prints:

[HANDY, L.C., STUDIO (photographer)]. Man crouching in front of a shanty with a sign erected above it reading “Camp Texas | Donations Accepted Thanks,” with two large stars and the words “Army” and “Navy” to either side. In the background is a car painted with slogans in white paint, including “Patman Our Pal 100%” and “Donation Accepted.” There is a phonograph player on the ground in front of the man. Ink stamp of L.C. Handy Studio, 404 Md. Ave, S.W. on verso. Image size: 14.7 x 24.2 cm; sheet size: 20.3 x 25.4 cm. Washington: L.C. Handy studio, n.d. Other than light wear (mostly confined to blank edges and corners, and a small area of dark streaking near the right margin), fine. Pencil notes on verso: “Bonus Army visits Washington” and “Credit line requested.”

[HANDY, L.C., STUDIO (photographer)]. Man (same person shown in preceding photograph) in a car painted with slogans in white, including “Patman Our Pal 100%” and “Pay Day Now!” A banner hanging from the car reads “Advance Car No. II | Bonus or Bust | Houston, Tex. | United Veterans of Texas.” Another man stands to the right of the car holding up a U.S. flag affixed to it. Beneath the flag, a small portion of the car shown in photograph above is visible. Image size: 14.1 x 23.8 cm; sheet size: 15.3 x 25.2 cm. N.p., n.d. Brown staining along right edge (mostly confined to blank margin but extending slightly into image), with a small area of adhered paper fibers, light soiling, a few other small stains and abrasions on verso, otherwise good.

     The Bonus Expeditionary Force, more popularly known as the “Bonus Army,” was a gathering of thousands of World War I veterans in the summer of 1932 in Washington, D.C., organized to pressure Congress into passing the Patman Bonus Bill, which would have accelerated the date of cash bonuses paid to the veterans. The bill passed in the House of Representatives, but was blocked in the Senate. Tragically, the situation culminated in an attack on the veterans by U.S. Army soldiers under the command of General Douglas MacArthur and George S. Patton, resulting in several deaths (including two infants asphyxiated by adamsite gas) and many injuries. Despite government resistance, public sympathy resulted in the bonus eventually being paid in 1936, and set the stage for the passing of the G.I. Bill for World War II veterans.

     Photographer Levin C. Handy (ca. 1855-1932), whose stamp is on the verso of the first photograph above, was the nephew and apprentice of famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady. The events in these photographs, however, post-date his death.


Sold. Hammer: $150.00; Price Realized: $180.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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